Who knew that combining a toy product with a video game would be a marketing success? When Skylanders Spyro's Adventure came out, it surprised everyone that a video game about a line of collectable toys was not just a great marketing tool, but also be a really good kid-friendly dungeon crawler. Seeing dollar signs, Activision once again called Toys for Bob and had them work on a follow up. But what more can you do without changing the basic gameplay and make it fresh at the same time? Make the figures bigger of course. This idea gave us Skylanders Giants. There is a saying that goes “Bigger is better”. But is that the case with Skylanders Giants, or is it just another victim of Activion’s milking ways?
Giants Add Height to Gameplay - Now Giants basically plays the same way as the first Skylanders: take a figure, put it on the Portal of Power and see it come to life on the screen. In addition to having the past Skylanders figures work with Giants, there is a whole new cast of regular Skylanders with new powers to utilize in this dungeon crawler-lite. Then there are the Giants, who are what the Skylanders used to be in their past. The Giants, in addition of removing large objects out of their way, they too have their own special powers and abilities that lets them deal the most damage they can and traverse the map in different ways than regular Skylanders and even other Giants.
Clever Way of Moving Spyro's Name Off the Title - In Spyro's Adventure, while it had the iconic purple dragon’s name in the title, the game’s story had little to do with him other than him being a playable character. Most players, including myself, just started calling the game Skylanders only. Toys for Bob had to figure out a way to get Spyro's name out of the title and did so in a clever way. In the opening sequence we see that Kaos, Spyro, and his friends all have been trapped in our world. Kaos breaks free and returns back to Skyland while Spyro and crew are trapped behind a glass display. In one fell swoop, Toys for Bob wrote Spyro out of the main title and still kept him as a playable character. Most developers would have either killed off the previous hero or not explained it all. This was a pretty clever way to solve that problem.
Series One Figures Works With Giants - A problem most games face when using real world objects is compatibility. The major question that customers who buy these real world objects ask is “Will these things that I paid money for work in the sequel/next game?” Skylanders Giants fortunately works with the figures from Skylanders Spyro's Adventure. In addition of the series one figures working with Giants, stats that each creature earned will transfer over to Giants. Even the Portal of Power (PoP) from the last game works with Giants, provided that you didn’t lose the USB receiver.
Portal of Power Now Wired- The PoP in Giants received an upgrade from the previous game. In my Spyro's Adventure review, I mentioned that the PoP ran on a wireless USB receiver and that the receiver can be easily lost. With Giants, the PoP is a bit sturdier and has a wired USB cord. It may sound like a small upgrade, but it’s one that is very welcomed as most owners of the PoP (especially parents) can attest.
A POOR COLLECTIBLE
Return of the DLC - Much like the last game, Giants suffers from DLC making its way into real life. This time, however, due to the success to the last game and its figures, more figures from the new game are getting variants of themselves, getting locked only to one store chain, and even the classic sending in UPC codes to a participating snack food company. It's really getting out of hand, much worse than pre-order bonus DLC. At least with that, the DLC will eventually be made for everyone to have. With the Skylanders, once the store is out, they are out.
Skylanders Giants is more of the same fun kid-friendly dungeon crawling action that was in the first game, but with some improvements. Toys for Bob did a good job in explaining why Spryo didn’t get top billing this time around, and improved the PoP by making it corded. As for the figures, if you collected the series one figures, don’t worry they will work with Giants and their stats will carry over. Speaking of Giants, the Giants figures are cool looking and very details, offering new in game abilities as well.
The only problem I have with Skylanders is that once again is DLC crossing over into real life. This time however, the figures are limited edition which limits their availability and encourages mass spending . Other than that, it’s a great addition to a new franchise. If you liked the game or any of the figures, you will most likely like Giants and the figures that are out as well.
*This review was based on the PS3 version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*